I moved out when I was 15 years old. I found solace at my fathers’ house so my story isn’t so tragic and honestly has become unexpectedly wonderful. I consider myself lucky for having a place to call home with a family who loves and supports me. My story is complicated but what it amounts to is that the woman who was supposed to love me more than anyone else in the world couldn’t and didn’t.
It’s been 8 years where I’ve leaned on several people such as teachers, friends and even have seen some therapists (a truth that until recently, I was ashamed to admit). I’ve opened up to the abuse and the ongoings of my mothers house only to be told that, “time heals all wounds” and “she’s your mother, you’ll forgive her one day”. When I tell people that I haven’t had a relationship with my mother in 8 years I feel judged. Like I’m tainted or have done something wrong, like it is my character that is flawed.
No one knew that she tried to push me down the stairs in an argument. No one knew that I got my period at her house, but I was too afraid to tell her. No one knew that, I would pick up the wine glasses that were scattered around the house and dispose of the leftover wine and fruit flies that had collected as my after school chore. No one knew that I would tiptoe around the house and was careful about what I said because I wasn’t ever sure of how she would react. No one knew that she would scream at us for talking while she was doing her makeup and then made us wait in the car for her to be ready. And no one knew that she forgot about my birthday. No one knew about the promises that she would make and then ‘forget’ about. No one knew that the new clothes that I got were her way to apologizing to me. No one knew that she got drunk and passed out and couldn’t pick me up from my grade 8 graduation. No one knew that she looked me in the eye and told me that she would help me pack my bags when I wanted to move out. No one knew, because no one asked.
The truth is that the only people who understand what it was like in that house are the people who lived there. My mother wasn’t all bad but she definitely wasn’t mother of the year material, that being said I know that I had it a lot better than others. I had a roof over my head, food on the table and the comfort of knowing that every couple of days I could seek some normality at my father’s house.
She gave birth to me and treated me poorly, but she is still my mother. I cannot change that fact. The idea that you have to love someone because they gave birth to you or are biologically related is something that drives me crazy. In all of my years of trying to understand what happened and what I did wrong, I was told only a handful of times that my feelings were valid. It was up until that point that I felt flawed, I was ashamed and confused. I often thought that reconciliation would just be easier than trying to work through the deep seeded trust issues that had somehow found their way into my life. I had to work through the anger, the tears, the frustration, the sadness that had come from walking away from part of my family.
I walked away from someone who was supposed to tell me about boys and take me shopping for prom. I found myself sad and envious of mothers and daughters walking down the street and having fun and laughing together. How could I hate someone and need them so much? I was confused to say the least. Some of the people I opened up to would tell me that I needed to reconcile with her because everyone needs their mom. But I have a mom, she’s my stepmother and has been more of a mother to me than my own. I’ve been told that I am going to need her on my wedding day or if something tragic happens I’m going to wish I forgave her sooner. I get told that when I have children I am going to want her in my life. But the truth is, when I become a mother I don’t want to be anything like her. I want my children to know how loved and valued they are. How much I adore them, even if they play sports instead of dancing. I want my child to have every opportunity to succeed.
Have I forgiven my mother for what has happened? Every day is different but I think so. I know that she wasn’t capable of loving me the way I needed to be loved. And that’s okay. Is she my biological mother? Yes. But do I have to have a relationship with her just because of it? No. And that’s okay too.